Harriet Diamond - That or Which

By Harriet Diamond

creator of harrietdiamond.net

That introduces a phrase that is essential to the meaning of the sentence.


Monica just read the book that I recommended to her.


Tamar has special skills that qualify her for a leadership role.


That refers to a particular book and to specific skills.


Which introduces a phrase that can be left out of the sentence without affecting the meaning; it is parenthetical. 


The women’s organization, which meets on Tuesdays, invited Sheila to speak.


The fact that the organization meets on Tuesdays has nothing to do with Sheila’s being invited to speak.


Alternatives to which:


Use possessives:     Our company, which relies on external resources, ….                         Our company’s reliance on external resources….

Use participles:         Allied Building, which leads the field, ….

                                    Allied Building, leading the field, ….

Just eliminate:          Allied Building, which is based in Jerusalem,… ….

                                    Allied Building, based in Jerusalem, ….

Which Hunt

Can you eliminate some “whiches” from the sentences below?


  1. 1.    This is an informative lecture which will give you new skills and tools. 
  2. 2.    My favorite class is one which includes the most student participation.
  3. 3.    If they haven’t already, your directors will take you through a succession planning process which will help you fine-tune specific tasks and skills.


1.  Change which to that.

2.  Change which to that.

3.  Change which to that or change which will to to.


Grammar in Plain EnglishWriting the Easy WayE-Z EnglishExecutive Writing American StylePerfect Phrases for Writing Company Announcements

Harriet Diamond is the author of Grammar in Plain English, E-Z English, Executive Writing American Style, Writing the Easy Way, and Perfect Phrases for Writing Company Announcements.  Her website is harrietdiamond.net